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New PAL Releases Roundup

Mario Kart, AC/PC, Orange Box separates.

Oh look, it's our old friends killing and driving! Assassin's Creed and Mario Kart Wii are this week's big releases, with The Orange Box separates - Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal and Team Fortress 2 - also worthy of note, although presumably only to people who thought The Orange Box was poor value or of mixed quality to begin with. So hopefully nobody reading this.

Assassin's Creed on PC is probably the more interesting of this week's two new versions (the other, on DS, is a curiosity but soon reveals itself as nothing more), seeing as it introduces a few new, variety-improving side-missions to a game whose principle drawback was that it was utterly lacking in variety once you got beyond a certain point. And not in that Full Spectrum Warrior sense of applying set tactics to new situations, which was a kind of variety anyway, but in a literal sense of retracing the same lines over and over like a stabby medieval Biro. Look to see whether the new bits measurably improve matters overall in our review very soon.

It will be nice to get that out of the way, too, because this will be a weekend of racing. This has already been a week of racing, as almost everyone in the office found themselves sucked into a time trial battle for RedLynx Trials 2: Second Edition superiority (and yes, there's a review of that imminent too - although you might as well give up on beating my Construction Works time right now), but if there's one plumber who can break Trials 2's hold then it's Mario and his karts.

Having reviewed Mario Kart Wii already, it seems only fair to parrot Oli's assertions: that the track design is smashing, the Wii Wheel actually works, the online multiplayer is mostly what it should be and that, "With Mario Kart Wii, Nintendo seems to be making a world record attempt for the greatest number of boost mechanics in a single racing game." See you online tomorrow. As opposed to now, obviously - this is different.

This week:

  • Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles (DS)
  • Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition (PC)
  • Chessmaster (PSP)
  • Draglade (DS)
  • Dr Reiner Knizia's Brain Benders (DS)
  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two (PC standalone)
  • Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
  • Portal (PC standalone)
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback (PS3)
  • Team Fortress 2 (PC standalone)
  • The Dog Island (PS2, Wii)
  • The History Channel: Battle for the Pacific (PS3, 360, PC, PS2)
  • Wild Arms 5 (PS2)
  • Victorious Boxers Challenge (Wii)